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Actinide materials exhibit strong spin-lattice coupling and electronic correlations, and are predicted to host new emerging ground states. One example is piezomagnetism and magneto-elastic memory effect in the antiferromagnetic Mott-Hubbard insulator uranium dioxide, though its microscopic nature is under debate. Here, we report X-ray diffraction studies of oriented uranium dioxide crystals under strong pulsed magnetic fields. In the antiferromagnetic state a  Bragg diffraction peak follows the bulk magnetostriction that expands under magnetic fields. Upon reversal of the field the expansion turns to contraction, before the  peak follows the switching effect and piezomagnetic 'butterfly' behaviour, characteristic of two structures connected by time reversal symmetry. An unexpected splitting of the  peak is observed, indicating the simultaneous presence of time-reversed domains of the 3-k structure and a complex magnetic-field-induced evolution of the microstructure. These findings open the door for a microscopic understanding of the piezomagnetism and magnetic coupling across strong magneto-elastic interactions. UO2 is an antiferromagnetic Mott-Hubbard insulator and exhibits piezomagnetism, though the origin of this is elusive. Here, X-ray diffraction of UO2 in pulsed magnetic fields reveals the presence of time-reversed magnetic domains and structural distortions that take place during the piezomagnetic switching.
Actinide materials; Electronic correlations; Piezomagnetism; Piezomagnetic switching; Uranium dioxide; Characterization and analytical techniques; Magnetic properties and materials; Phase transitions and critical phenomena
Chemistry | Materials Chemistry | Physical Sciences and Mathematics
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Antonio, D. J.,
Weiss, J. T.,
Shanks, K. S.,
Ruff, J. P.,
Gruner, S. M.,
Andersson, D. A.,
Stanek, C. R.,
Smith, J. L.,
Piezomagnetic Switching and Complex Phase Equilibria in Uranium Dioxide.
Communications Materials, 2(1),